Fishing With Dynamite: A Serial Novel (Chapter 1)

Posted by Phildo | Labels: ,

Chapter 1

Officer C. Olson was, by all accounts, a son of a bitch. His mother, to all who knew her, was literally a bitch. She was one of the surliest and most unkind bitches that ever walked the earth. His childhood was rife with trigger points that inexorably led him down a path that could end in one of two ways: criminal, or cop. But it wasn't just his lineage that endowed him with his moniker, he was as much the epitome of the policeman you never want to get pulled over by as any man could ever be.

He stood six feet, three and a half inches tall. He had a wide build that, once imposing and menacing even as a silhouette, had made it a point to soften annually. Perched deep inside two cavernous eye sockets were steel-grey eyes; eyes that, nearly three decades before, had sent fear into the bloody and beating hearts of every wide receiver and tailback he ever set sight on. The eyes that once glowed with a white-hot fire had cooled, striking now only in the uniformity of the color of his irises. He wore a mustache, partially because that's what cops do, but also because he knew it was the one thing he could still do to piss off his wife. His nose was thick, like a tree branch, extending up into his forehead, ending in a thicket of persistently untamed black hair. It was also slightly crooked, just above the middle, from his one attempt at a life of crime.

He was nineteen when he lost everything. Some fucking faggot from Waycross High School landed a tackle after a down. Sure the referee called a flag on the play for unsportsmanlike conduct. Sure the faggot never went on to become anything important. But neither did Olson. The way the little shit had landed on Olson's leg literally snapped his femur like a twig, a fact that to this day held the Waycross County Hospital's unofficial title of "Most Crazy Broken Bone." They even kept the x-ray on the wall of the waiting room for the ER, the backwards, redneck fucks. After just over a year of physical therapy, Olson was walking around again, mobile, and even able to jog at a decent pace for a few minutes, though nothing sustainable yet. Either way, his hopes of playing football in college, and thus his hopes of going to college at all, were dashed. After graduation, a lot of kids from his high school stuck around town. Rural Tennessee is not known for producing fine academic minds, with a few gracious exceptions. There wasn't a lot to do in Stapleton; a few bars, a grocery store and a movie theatre were the main attractions. If you didn't leave as soon as you could, the town had a way of sucking you in, holding you down until in your last breath you lamented over a wasted life and passed on into the void. Olson had resigned himself to this fate.

Tim Voyt, who insisted well into his fifties that he be called "Timmy" was the first to experiment with the nefarious side of life in Stapleton. That is to say, as nefarious as a town like Stapelton allowed one to be. Timmy and a few other recently graduated boys had hatched a half-witted plan to rob the cash drawer at The Hinge, one of three bars in Stapelton. It didn't occur to Timmy, Olson or any of the other boys that once they had emptied out the cash drawer they'd just turn around and spend the money on booze at The Hinge or some other bar the next night. Planning wasn't their strong suit. What they didn't expect, in all their scheming, was that the bar's owner and a few of the regulars would still be inside, drinking after hours. When Olson kicked in the back door he was surprised to hear hurried footsteps coming through the service door and even more surprised to feel the swift blow of a crowbar cracking across his face. The other boys ran that first forty yards faster than any they had ever put down on the football field, leaving Olson writhing, red hot with pain on the floor of the tiny kitchen of The Hinge.

The bar's owner threw Olson's hulking frame into the cab of his truck and drove Olson home, where he pushed him out the door and left him to bleed in the yard. After what seemed like weeks, Olson noticed movement on the porch. A cat jumping back and forth across the light coming from the screen door? No. A rocking chair. If his sense of smell wasn't fully occupied with the task of smelling his own blood he would've caught the scent of tobacco in the air, and would've detected the growing stench of alcohol and sweat coming towards him at a steady, if stilted, pace. If he hadn't been so preoccupied with the bleeding, the wretched pain and the flap of his ear lobe dangling from a thread of brutalized flesh, he would've felt the first kick land in his stomach. At this point pain was pain, it all melted together and Olson was the fire at the center of his own hot, painful little world.

Olson's dad had given him the beating of a lifetime, a fact that he carried with him for years as a police officer. Olson spent the next day inside the house, dressing his wounds as best as he knew how while his mother shouted at him for hours on end through the locked bathroom door. He wished he had brought a magazine in with him, at the rate she was going he'd be in here for hours with nothing to do but listen to her berate him. The injury, the attempted robbery, the beating of a lifetime, and still the worst year of Olson's life wasn't done with him yet. The next day he went to see Lenora, the only one who had actually been by his side during the painful physical therapy after his injury.

Lenora Merritt was the daughter of the pastor of Stapleton's one and only church, Stapleton Baptist, and was as much a preacher's daughter as Olson was a member of the royal family of England. Still, her reputation for being...gregarious...didn't matter to Olson. To him she was everything. They had started dating while in their senior year of high school and the way she looked at him; it was like he had saved the world. She even started paying attention to her father's sermons, a stark contrast from her noticeably obligatory attendance in the past.

After his injury, Lenora had been Olson's rock. She was the reason he recovered at all. He didn't have much of a spirit to go on, but Lenora prodded and persisted, telling Olson he'd get better. He could still play football. He hadn't told her what the doctors told him at the end of his physical therapy, that he would never play again. He was afraid that she would abandon him, as he had nearly done to himself.

Back in the upstairs bathroom at his house, he was satisfied that he had dressed his wounds as best he could, and none too happy with the damage the crowbar had done to his nose, Olson decided to go see Lenora; hopefully she would make him feel better despite the earlobe that was held to his ear with a band-aid.

* * * *

Eighteen year old Lenora Merritt stared in horror at the bathroom mirror, too afraid to look down. It was only 9:30 in the morning, she hadn't been out drinking with Olson or any of her friends last night, and had only had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for dinner. What waited for her gaze was irrefutable evidence that a preacher's daughter's worst dream had come true.

* * * *

Olson pulled into the driveway of Lenora's house and parked under the huge cherry tree that dominated their front lawn. He felt a skip return to his step as he bounded up the steps and knocked on her front door. He had, in fact, forgotten entirely about the last few days at the thought of seeing Lenora. He couldn't imagine why Mrs. Merritt was staring in horror at his freshly mangled face as she opened the door.

"Charles! Heavens what has happened to you?" Mrs. Merritt's faintly detectable accent imbued her words with an inherent sense of urgency and genuine care.

"My fa--Oh. Just, you know," Olson struggled to find an acceptable answer.

"Nevermind all that. Are you okay?"

"Oh, yeah. Real fine. Is um, Lenora home?"

"She is, just upstairs, have a seat in the parlor and I'll get her," she said as she made her way through the kitchen to the back staircase. He heard her calling back to him from down the hall "Charles, honey, do you want some lemonade? Tea? Ice for that face of yours?"

"No, no thanks Mrs. Merritt." Olson suddenly wished he hadn't come at all.

Whatever sentiment of growing dread he felt at having to explain another beating to Mr. Merritt was amplified by the utter fear that gripped him when Lenora walked into the parlor, he face a ghostly white, eyes to the floor. When she looked up and saw Olson, what little color remained in her skin drained and she became nearly translucent. She rushed over to him.

"Charlie-boy! Baby! What happened?" She frantically ran her hands through his tousled black hair and gently touched the bandage on his nose and the bruises on his forehead and cheek"

"It's nothing, really, I just..." Olson hesitated. "I just wanted to come and see you."

"Did your piece of shit dad do this to..." Lenora started to give him the familiar lecture about telling her father what his dad did to him, letting them help.

"Lenora, don't. It's over." Olson interrupted.

Lenora caught herself in the middle of a laugh as she said "You're not kiddin', Charlie-boy." The color that had returned to briefly flush her cheeks drained again as she met his eyes.

"What is it?"

"Charlie?" Lenora paused, her eyes dropping to the floor. "I'm pregnant."

* * * *

Sixteen years later, Officer C. Olson was awkwardly perched on a bar stool at a Jack-In-The-Box in Nashville. He had just about a half-hour before he was on-duty, but he was already in uniform because they often gave him a free up-size to large or extra large because he wore a badge. He held a french fry in his meaty fingers and closed his eyes, listening to the individual salt crystals crunch in his mouth as he chewed. It was about 8:30pm, and with breakfast nearly over, he slurped his Coca-Cola absently.

Olson hated working the night shift. He hated it for a lot of reasons. Thanks to some excellent budget cuts by the municipal and state governments, he worked two weeks straight at night with one week off afterward. He then rotated and worked one week straight during the day and had another week off before switching back to nights. This meant that in any given month, he had to spend two weeks sleeping on the couch during the day to avoid sleeping in another man's fresh semen and sweat in his bed and another week at home dealing with his insolent bitch of a wife.

It wasn't that she was always a cheater, but after about three years, when marriage had really become more about a tax break and cheaper rent than about love, he started noticing subtle changes in her. At first it was simple things, like switching her showers from the morning to night, just as he was leaving for work and buying wine instead of beer when he was about to go on a stint of working nights. It later became more overt, she'd be wearing a man's t-shirt in bed when he got home; and the t-shirt was most certainly not his. At this point in his life he had already been through too much to really care, whatever he got was probably what he deserved, so he accepted his reality and did the best he could from his side of the bed.

One morning he came home, stripped down to his boxers and collapsed into bed to find his back suddenly moist. He sat up and reached for the middle of his back until he felt a cool, slimy liquid. He was afraid he knew what it was before he brought his hand up to his face to look more closely.

"Oh fuck! Fucking jizz? Fucking jizz? You fucking slut!" he had shaken her awake, obtusely wiping the semen on the Rolling Stones t-shirt she was wearing.

Either he had really jarred her awake or the bitch had been awake the whole time because she was immediately awake and thrusting her face close to his with her brow furrowed in anger while her arms waved wildly about. Olson flashed back to all the times he had been yelled at and berated as a child and instinctively tuned her out. He thought he made out "at least I don't let him come inside me you fucking prick!" but at this point he was out of bed and putting on the nearest pair of jeans. He grabbed a shirt from a drawer and was preparing to march out the door when he realized the shirt was not even his.

"Fuck! What the fuck?" he screamed as he peeled the shirt off and grabbed another, slamming the bedroom door behind him.

It was the beginning of his week off and he was ready for a bender to make the greatest alcoholics shiver. He felt his father's alcoholic blood beating through his veins, pulsing through his wrists into his clenched fists as he drove his squad car to the first bar he could find where he wouldn't likely know anyone. That was the week he met Anders, and the week the rest of his life had changed.

That was a long time ago, thought Olson as he wrapped up the trash from his double cheeseburger and tossed it into a trash can on his way out the door. He was walking to his patrol car when the dispatcher called a 10-90, F2. Domestic dispute. Fucking great, because I don't deal with that enough already. He responded to the dispatcher that he was en route and aimed his cruiser in the direction of West Lynne Avenue, in a fairly affluent part of Nashville. From the house number it was probably a quiet suburban oasis in the city, certainly not a common stop on his nightly beat.

He left the lights of his cruiser flashing as he approached the door of 18 West Lynne. He knocked twice without announcing himself. On the third knock he peered in the beveled glass window of the house and rang the doorbell. He spotted a light on down the front hallway, probably coming from a kitchen or dining room.

"Nashville PD. Folks, please open your door."

He knocked and rang a fourth time, yelling this time to announce himself.

"Nashville Police Department. Sir or ma'am, please answer your door."

Again no answer. He stepped back from the door and looked at the rest of the house. There was no light coming from any of the other windows at the front of the house. He noticed a decorative fence circling the rear of the property and decided to check out the back yard. As he walked through the gate and into the backyard he instinctively drew his .9 mm from its holster and held it at his side. What the fuck are you doing, Olson? This is a nice neighborhood, nice people. Olson chided himself as he holstered the firearm.

He climbed the five steps to the back porch and saw the blinds of the bay window had been drawn closed, but that there was light and at least one visible silhouette. He walked silently towards the back door, careful to watch the figure in the window. He knocked on the door, making sure his knuckles hit hard enough to be heard in the kitchen one room over. The figure moved out of sight from the window and Olson's heart beat faster in his chest. Still, he'd never had any serious calls to this part of town. Occasionally breaking up a teenager's party while his parents were out of town, but that was about it. He tried the doorknob and was only half-surprised to find it unlocked. He silently thumbed the clasp on his holster and drew his pistol as he entered the house, headed for the source of the light that had been visible from the window. He was halfway into the kitchen, bathed in a cool fluorescent light when he heard a sound behind him.

Officer C. Olson had just enough time to whirl around 180 degrees and face his oppressor; just enough time, a fraction of a second, to see the twisted, familiar smile standing a few feet away from him. And in that fraction of a second, Officer C. Olson became intimately acquainted with a recently superheated piece of lead. The bullet leapt from the gun at what Olson would have known to be about 760 miles per hour if he had had time to register that he was being shot. Instead, he had just enough time to register a muzzle shot before everything went black.

Officer Charles Blake Olson was dead.


If I Was a Purebreed

Posted by Phildo | Labels: , , , ,

Let me begin by saying I've spent much of my life being insanely awesome. So awesome, in fact, that my urine has been used to cure diseases in third world countries. Yes, I am so awesome that most of the people that know me don't even talk to me that much. I like to think it is because my awesomeness creates a sort of "force field" around me, in which the force of my awesomeness almost pushes people away. My physicians have told me that I suffer from clinical awesomeness, a real condition, partially genetic but also environmental. I'm told it's the ultraviolet rays from our very own Sun that give me my powers.

That being said, I have not lived my life without a sense of "What if?" The question that has dogged me since before I even had a dog (or cat) is the same question that drove Jay Gatsby to a life of fabulous excess. What if I had been born a purebred?

Pardoning the comparison to Mr. David Cross' treatise on the subject and by extension Louis C.K.'s thoughts on the matter, I write not on the subject of rich people being boring, but instead to say that to have a certain pedigree in life would be of inexhaustible usefulness.

Think of some of the great names in American history: Kennedy, Rockefeller, Walton, Proctor, Gamble and well, you get the point. To be born into one of these families is to enter a world of privilege and expectation that most of us plebeians will never know. Sure there are tons of millionaires out there, but there is a difference between old money and new money, as Jay Gatsby knew all too well.

Even though her recent lottery win made her the wealthiest woman in Mississippi, Lakwanda found it difficult to let go of some of the simpler things in life.

So without further adieu, I give you a list of things I would do if I were of a more significant pedigree:
  • Stage an elaborate hunting trip with several of my cronies, while keeping it a secret that we are actually hunting our recently wealthy friend Sebastian.
  • Drop heaping bags of manure onto McMansions in suburban America.
  • Fuck a model.
  • Make a smoothie out of money and drink it.
  • Go to hospital for drinking a money smoothie.
  • Go to Jamba Juice for a real smoothie.
  • Become a U.S. Senator, work my way up to a lucrative position like Chairman of the Senate Appropriations committee and frame a President for murder.
  • Get acquitted from treason charges after a cunning defense attorney comes up with a clever rhyme.
  • Write a book about how if I did frame a President for murder, this is how I'd do it.
  • Bail the U.S. Government out of a financial fuckhole.
  • Play a ton of gol...
Actually, y'know what let's pause here, how much swagger did J.D. Rockefeller and J.P. Morgan have when they, along with a handful of other preposterously wealthy men donated millions of dollars to bail the U.S. Government out of the panic of 1907? That's a level of swagger most NBA players don't even attain.

I've never known anyone that is the progeny of a well established American family. In fact, I don't think I even know anyone that has taken the time to figure out whether or not they actually are part of a well established American family. The extent of my knowledge of wealth and wealthiness is limited to that which I've seen in the cinematic classic, "Richie Rich."

There's more to life than badass water slides and slicked back hair? Poppycock!

If "Richie Rich" got it wrong, then I don't want to be right. Actually, instead of finishing this tract, I'm going to let you watch the extended theatrical trailer to the movie.

Tell me what would be not-awesome about having Claudia Schiffer as your personal trainer, your own amusement park and a fucking chair that LAUNCHES YOU INTO THE FUCKING AIR? Friends from an urban community? Fuck friends from an urban community. Fuck friends. I'll pay a bunch of hobos a dollar each to come sit in my magic chair and laugh my ass off as I blast their asses up and over my immensely expensive perimeter fence.

Yup. I'll take money.


Curiosity Fucking Killed the Cat

Posted by Phildo | Labels: , , ,

You may be familiar with the old adage "curiosity killed the cat." Of course you may not be. If you are not, hello, welcome. This is what we call "earth." We live here.

I've spent the last few days being preposterously sick and under self-imposed house arrest, which in the hands of a more capable man, could have spent learning French, developing a cure for childhood obesity, or rolling massive spliffs and melting into a wall.

Hillary, venez mettre ce contondant dans le vagin!

Instead of doing all these excellently useful things, I've watched way too many quasi-futuristic action-thrillers, downloaded and listened to Ender's Game on audiobook. Let's break this down, shall we? If you said "No, we shan't," then fuck off. This is my blog.

1) Quasi-Futuristic Action-Thrillers:
Here's the list...
The Island
The 6th Day
Minority Report
I, Robot
The Running Man
The entirety of the show "Firefly"

2) Ender's Game:
The epitome of sci-fi geekery. Reading Ender's Game is like a right of passage for nerds. I read it as part of required summer reading for seventh grade, because honestly there's enough pre-pubescent angst in it to make any rising middle schooler feel potent. The audiobook features a cast of a handful of voice actors, a few of which are exceptionally annoying but some of which have just...epic voices.

So there's that. But let's get back to the subject at hand, fucking ridiculous cats. We've already covered how I feel about cats and cat ownership - kind of unbelievable that I own one. Also kind of annoying from a cat's perspective to know that he is considered "owned." Frederick Douglass would be pretty pissed off about this whole article, I imagine.

Do you own a cat? Yes? Then you may stop reading. You already know this. Do you not own a cat? Welcome. This is my life.

Nothing is sacred to a cat. Every last atom that makes up the fabric of your world is privy to the imagination and wonderment of your feline friend/enemy. A dangling shoelace, a wiggling toe, a flaccid penis, all these things are as interesting a plaything for a cat as any commercially available toy could ever be. Much like with children or puppies, you learn to "cat-proof" your home. If you ever want your fingernail clippers to be seen again, you find a tight cubby for them to be placed in lest they be molested by your cat. I have learned these lessons. Everything I own finds its way into a drawer or other cat-proof locale to prevent the loss of my multitude of exceptionally valuable small items (read: testicles). Even then, there are few places that are ultimately inaccessible to your cat.


You see, I've come to find that this sonuvabitch is pretty intelligent. He knows how to shut a door with his head, preventing a canine companion from joining me in the bathroom, for example. He's learned when the best times to capitalize on his curiosity are. For example, this evening I opened the above cabinet to fetch a few slices of bread. I turned my back as I prepared to slather some crunchy peanut butter (I used to be a creamy guy, but I figure if I'm already chewing, why not chew with purpose?) onto the recently acquired bread. Without thinking, I closed the cabinet door and went about making my deliciously simple treat. It wasn't until I got to a particularly annoying segment of Ender's Game that it occurred to me that there was another, more foreign sound making up the cacophony of my evening.

There was a persistent mewing, a thrashing and crashing that sounded like Helen Keller trying to bathe a drunk. As I hesitantly approached the source of the noise, I found a young catling struggling to open a box of Cheez-Its perched on his chest.

Actually, screw off. Nyquil rocks. You suck. Actually you rock. Tell other people that they suck on my behalf. Unless they read me, too. Then tell them you're sorry for saying they suck and kiss their baby. If they don't have a baby, impregnate them or give them the privilege of carrying their spawn within you. Then, when the child is born, kiss it. Now we're even. You're welcome.

Within 36 hours you shall find that I have posted part two of my ever popular "Things I've Learned From Unemployment" series. And by popular I've read it. And I've read it.

So stop thinking. Seriously. No, seriously. Fuck! What? Stop it! You're going to....oh! And there it is. You put your eye out.


Liveblog: AKC/Eukanuba Dog Championships + Whiskey

Posted by Phildo | Labels: , , , ,

Hi everyone,

It's me. I'm here after having a few Jack 'n Cokes and the only thing on TV it seems is the AKC championship. So far it's some dude from Entertainment Tonight...Bob something? And some girl who really shouldn't be wearing a sleeveless dress.

Anyway, I figured this would be exceptionally boring, so for your benefit I'm going to be getting incredibly drunk during the course of the program.

Edit: 8:03 PM / Four Shots - There's some dude that looks like The Rajin' Cajun James Carville saying something about sallow cheeks.

First event is beginning and it's the Toy category! Get out your leotards and strike a pose, 'cause the gay is getting gayer!

Bob-Something said something lame about being a chauvinist because the male dog was wearing a bow. Way to go. Papillon means butterfly. You know what else means butterfly, Bob? Butterfly does.

The Chinese Crested is up. What a fucking ugly dog. Toy Poodle also ugly. What's sad is that the commentators really are proud that they've followed this competition for "years." And the worst thing is they aren't even as drunk as I am.

Edit: 8:08 PM / Five Shots - Bob is going chauvinist again! Ooooh this is so naughty. I'm surprised this isn't rated M for "Making me want to get drunker." Wait, wait...looking at a Maltese and it has THREE bows in its hair, and Bob doesn't say a thing?

The walk-people or whatever you call them are wearing Nazi-like sleeve bands. I'm not sure how I feel about this. Oh who am I kidding, where's Hitler when you need him?

Apparently there are "Junior Handlers" which is code for "slightly less sad than the regular kind." Ooooh a bull dyke! The human kind, not the dog kind.

Edit: 8:15 PM / Five and a Half Shots - This Afrin commercial is racist. Now there's a Tide commercial with some punkass bitch in a yellow shirt. She sucks. Jen with the green shirt in the Comcast commercial sounds extremely annoying - the commercial clearly says she takes an hour to tell a five minute story. I know people like that. And I kill them. Word? Word. RONI DEUTCH SAVED ME $35,000 ON A TAX BAILOUT! THEN SHE ATE OUT MY MOM! AHHHH!

THese are all commericals. I'm going to stop editing here so you can see a nautral digression.

Edit: 8:18 PM / Five and a Half Shots - James Carville lookalike just said something about short tits, I think. Bob Dickface is making everyone run around in dainty little circles and shit is getting real. I fully expect Ethan Hawke to show up somewhere and make a pensive, thinly mustachioed face.

Some chick with unfortunate breasts and far-apart eyes is saying something about Eukaneuba or Blue Danueba or whatever. Oh! Oh! Percy get your ass over here! We're about to start the Non-Sporting Dogs Event Section!! I'm SOOOO EXCITED.

Geico is involved in this shit somehow. Michelle Billings is a judge. Whoever that is. She looks like the Cryptkeeper. Y'know, from the Krypt

We just got an explanation of the word "withers" which is one of my favorite words in the English language. Seriously, say the sentence "This bitch is 26 inches at the withers" and tell me you didn't giggle. Just a little.

Barlkey has an owner with tig 'ol bitties. And bitch needs some de-frizz shampoo. Fuckin' A.

Edit: 8:24 AM / Six Shots - I was watching paint dry on the wall so I missed the last part, but the audience went "OHHH!" like the last dog got called to the principal's office. Hahahahah the dude said "She's a beautiful bitch and a bit of a brat, but she's a great dog." THIS is why I watch dog shows people.

Lhasa Apso is up with some chick that looks like my high school English teacher. Except with less formaldehyde.

This Bob guy is killing me, he's like the Uncle figure I wrote about a while back, the guy from the World Series of Poker.

HOLY CANKLES!!! Jolene Parreira the owner of some small bitch (ha! I can say this and mean it) has ankles like oak trees.

Okay, y'know what? The more I think about it, the more I realize that nobody wins. It's over. The internet is filled to the brim with porn and I'm watching a dog show? With commercials for lawyers wearing cowboy hats? Whatever.

I'm done with this, stop thinking, bitches. Especially at your withers.


10 Things I've Learned From Unemployoment, Part. 1

Posted by Phildo | Labels: , ,

Well it's been just over two months of unemployment, folks. If you missed how it happened...then I'm sorry, but I'm done talking about it. At least for now. I may feel the need in the foreseeable future. It's certainly been quite a journey; one filled with beards, Zack Galafinakis comparisons, confused intoxication and a few other things as well. I sit now on the cusp of some very serious job hunting, including a prospect that incredibly combines my love for all things dubbed "new media," the psychology of advertising, the advertising of advertising and the...THE INTERNET. I know what you're thinking, "He must be on another bender." And don't get me wrong, if I could be, I would be. Unfortunately the cash crunch prohibits even alcohol consumption. That's how you know I've gotten to the bottom of the financial barrel - no booze. I'm essentially living right at the poverty level; wondering where my next meal will come from, scrounging up pennies and quarters from wherever I can find them. The dollar menu is an unemployed man's best friend and his waistline's worst enemy. But that's another post. It is this very financial insecurity that brings me to the first thing I've learned from being unemployed:

Part I:

Saving Money is Hardly Easy: Easy to Do But Hard to Live With

Did you like that? It’s a little pun I came up with while sitting in my underwear for the last month. One of my biggest downfalls as a person has always been the proficiency with which I am able to spend money. Whether it’s an upgraded cable package, meeting up at a bar after work or just eating out too often, I am frequently found guilty of using my wallet.
What I found from the onset of unemployment is that it’s very easy to cut things out. For example, I called the cable company right off the bat to cancel my service. Easy. Living for a month without a DVR and 800 channels of glistening HD? Much harder. Friends (we’ll get to this) call to meet up for drinks still, and what am I to say?
“No man, I got like…no money.”
And this is what kills me, and may actually kill you, too (in which case you won't have to worry about being unemployed): your friends will never actually get used to the idea that you don't have money like they do.
Even then, it took some getting used to, but “Why don’t we meet up at your house or my house with a couple of brewskies?” eventually became easier to ask. It often has a much more “King of the Hill” feel to it, but again, in the interest of cost, it works out best for the unemployee (that’s another little term I coined – this one I came up with on the john). The point is, like it or not, you have to cut out unnecessary costs from the onset otherwise you’ll find yourself very very broke down the road. The challenge once you've cut out these nonessentials is to keep yourself active enough so that you don’t find yourself in the “Unemployment Spiral” which consists of staring at your wall all day, occasionally weeping. As soon as you cut out a lot of these things that may in some ways count as hobbies, you either find something to busy yourself with (like, oh, I don’t know…finding a job) or you end up memorizing the labels of the soup cans in your pantry. I have lived for two ridiculous months without steady income and a marginal amount of savings accounted for. Here are some tips, because at some point or another, you'll probably be unemployed. Because I will fire you. Copiers are NOT beds, Carol.

1) Call your creditors, utility providers, insurers and bookies and
tell them you're unemployed. Unless you got fired for fucking the mailroom clerk on the copy machine and accidentally emailing copies of your naughty bits to your boss...then sue the hell out of them for spying on you. More often than not your creditors will be willing to work with you until you can get your finances sorted out.

2) Cut the cable. Turn off any unnecessary services. Cable TV? Sorry. Netflix? My bad, it's out! That prescription to Guns & Ammo? Gonesky! And...bear with me here...if you live close to a source of free may be wise to cancel your internet, too.

I'm sending a signal to your box. Heh...did you see what I did there?

3) Coupons. I know what you're thinking, because I thought the same thing. "Coupons? I'm no septuagenarian, I don't use fucking
coupons." But check this shit out:

I bet she used a coupon for that sexy tank top, too.

Homegirl is crazy on coupons. Now I haven't gone that far, but you'd be surprised how quickly a buy-one-get-one coupon or two can help you save some cashola.

4) Conserve trips. Back when you had a job the H2 seemed like a good idea, didn't it? You were the king of the road in your unabashedly enormous SUV and 8 miles per gallon was your way of fucking as many things as possible.

Who is your daddy, and what does he drive?

Conserving trips will not only help save your precious money from being spent on gasoline (and leaving a larger pool for your booze budget) but you'll also be doing...shit...there's something else...oh that's right, helping the environment. This pretty much speaks for itself; if you're a list-person (we'll get to that in a bit), figure out which things on your list are errands, and which are close together. You'll get more knocked out at one time and in turn feel slightly better about yourself when standing in front of the mirror thinking "Which sweatpants should I wear today?"

5) Cook at home. I know. I know. This one is tough. But if you can master the art of coupon-clipping and curb that burgeoning alcoholism, you'll have enough money to make some pretty great meals at home. This article from The New York Times has a great 10-item shopping list that I have bought on more than one occasion for around $15 and made 5 different meals multiple times. There are tons of resources around the interwebs for eating on a budget, so find them, Pokey.

6) Put your pride in the freezer. If you're lucky enough to have friends they will probably want to spend time with you.

You won't be able to afford their apartment on an unemployed person's salary. But they can still cook for you.

Don't be too proud to accept an invite over for dinner or the charity of a friend bringing some food over to you. Of course, if you don't have friends, then we're going to have to figure that out later.

Obviously there's a lot more that can be done to save money while unemployed, but those six things have helped me to survive while I soul search and find what the next stage in The Life of Phil will be.

Part II: "We just think you're overqualified" in this 10 part series will be coming soon. Please feel free to share your own tips on saving money, because umm..*ahem*...I could use them, too. Until then, don't think too hard, it makes you look ugly.


My Completely Unprofessional Oscar Predictions

Posted by Phildo | Labels: ,

Dear Internets,

It's that time of year again. You've had enough egg nog to last you until next year, the thought of turkey still makes you sleepy and you've already given up on at least two of your New Year's resolutions. If you think you haven't, look a little more closely. Aren't I such an "upper?"

Anyway, late January means two things in my world:
1) The Superbowl (11 minutes of actual game play and four hours of glorious advertising)
2) The Oscar nominees.
3) If there were to be a three, it would probably involve some type of crying, akin to caterwauling. Without all the rutting.

The Superbowl will be another post entirely (haha, don't you love when I say that? It's basically a guarantee that I'll never write about it), so today we are here for my take on the ol' Oscar Prediction bandwagon. Please keep in mind that other than the fact that I occasionally go to the movies and have never been wrong about anything ever, I am completely unqualified to be held accountable for any large bets you place based off my predictions.

And the winners are (bold and italicized):

Best Picture
“The Blind Side”
“District 9"
“An Education”
“The Hurt Locker”
“Inglourious Basterds”
“Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire”
“A Serious Man”
“Up in the Air”

Let's be honest. James Cameron fucked with your mind in this movie. It was all three dimensional and had some gay song that people liked. And it made a fucking billion dollars. Almost two. Even Bill Gates paused his Zune long enough to think "Was that the wind blowing?" Plus all these other ones, with the exception of "Up in the Air" aren't necessarily indie enough to fit the trend of the last decade's Best Picture nods going to pretentious indie "woe is me" movies.

At this point I'd like to go ahead and remind you I only loosely know what I'm talking about. So if you feel the need to interject an opinion other than "Oh my God, you're so handsome!" then please go smash your head through a panel of drywall and pour lemon juice in your eyes.

Best Direction
“Avatar” — James Cameron
“The Hurt Locker” — Kathryn Bigelow
“Inglourious Basterds” — Quentin Tarantino
“Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire” — Lee Daniels
“Up in the Air” — Jason Reitman

Even though Quentin Tarantino has already popped an entire bottle of Viagra to draw attention away from that honking chin of his on the red carpet, Inglorious Basterds wasn't good enough to reward him with a tiny naked gold man. A blue man maybe, but that was Vegas and we're not supposed to talk about that. "The Hurt Locker" is just too lame of a title to really be taken seriously, "Up in the Air" had some great performances from the leads but I don't think you can safely attribute that to a visionary director. And "Precious?" What the shit-fuck? I had to make up a new profanity just to describe my disdain, disbelief and overall dissyness of a movie that is called "Precious." "Precious" is when someone else's kid shits their pants at the mall. "Precious" is when your cat gets into the peanut butter and leaves little peanut butter paw prints all around your house and you go to Home Depot to hire some temp labor to clean it up. If a movie called "Precious" wins any awards, I'm emigrating to Canada. In case that wasn't enough evidence, let me remind you that Avatar made two fucking billion dollars. James Cameron did nothing but think about blue people for ten years (he really would've loved that Vegas trip I took with Tarantino). He designed a new type of film and camera equipment for Christ's sake. If some fuck-brain wins for directing a movie called "Precious," which I can only imagine is about little ceramic dolls that come to life and have silent tea parties while Judy Dench weeps softly in the background, then James Cameron should be awarded full Presidential pardon for murdering America.

Actor in a Leading Role
Jeff Bridges in “Crazy Heart”

George Clooney in “Up in the Air”

Colin Firth in “A Single Man”

Morgan Freeman in “Invictus”

Jeremy Renner in “The Hurt Locker”

Clooney deserves it. Let's be honest. The guy has developed such a panache for these type of films. Each grey hair he gains makes him that much more believable as a lost soul seeking redemption for his past (drawing on his experience as Batman for inspiration, perhaps?). But Morgan Freeman is Morgan Freeman. Nelson Mandela straight up asked Morgan Freeman, "Will you be me if they make a movie about me?" And Morgan Freeman was like "Dude. Fuckin' A." Morgan Freeman's voice makes unborn kittens purr, unwed mothers proud and Olympic Athletes...well he doesn't really impact them. Plus apparently Nelson Mandela was some famous political figure in some city in Antarctica or something and that will automatically get people's award-glands pumping. Everyone else probably sucks. Well that's not true. I really like Jeff Bridges. But whatever nobody else cares about him.

Actress in a Leading Role
Sandra Bullock in “The Blind Side”
Helen Mirren in “The Last Station”
Carey Mulligan in “An Education”
Gabourey Sidibe in “Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire”
Meryl Streep in “Julie & Julia”

I don't know how to say this. Because I've seen Sandra Bullock in person and she did NOT look this good. This was five years ago. But homegirl stomped the fucking yard in The Blind Side. I would clean my act up if it meant snugglin' up next to that piece of a...oh, hello. I didn't realize you were still here. I have a soft spot for the movie because the crew and some of the cast stayed at my hotel during production so I'd like to see them do well. But did I mention Sandra Bullock's derriere? Someone get me some cornbread! I'm not sure that's related.

Actor in a Supporting Role
Matt Damon in “Invictus”
Woody Harrelson in “The Messenger”
Christopher Plummer in “The Last Station”
Stanley Tucci in “The Lovely Bones”
Christoph Waltz in “Inglourious Basterds”

Didn't see any of these. But I heard that Stanley Tucci was like crazy or something. Plus I'm SO tired of Matt Damon's stupid face and stupid hair. Have you ever noticed how stupid his face is? It's SO stupid.

Actress in a Supporting Role
Penélope Cruz in “Nine”
Vera Farmiga in “Up in the Air”
Maggie Gyllenhaal in “Crazy Heart”
Anna Kendrick in “Up in the Air”
Mo’Nique in “Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire”

Just the facts, ma'am. Let's go over them. "Precious?" Ha. Fuck. Off. "Mo'Nique?" There wasn't enough of their first choice for the role, a poor working girl named "Nique." Anna Kendrick was aight, but she's not there yet. Maggie Gyllenhaal can go live in stupid face land with Matt Damon and Alyson Hannigan. Vera Farmiga just moved in with me and I just introduced her to "Oscar" so she's already a winner. That leaves old Penalohpee. Nine, from what I saw of it (Yay screeners! Yay A.D.D.!) was just the kind of shit the Academy eats up and Lady Cruz is easy on the eyes, ears, nose and throat. Ummm...moving on.

Writing (Adapted Screenplay)
“District 9” — Written by Neill Blomkamp and Terri Tatchell
“An Education” — Screenplay by Nick Hornby
“In the Loop” — Screenplay by Jesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell, Armando Iannucci, Tony Roche
“Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire” — Screenplay by Geoffrey Fletcher
“Up in the Air” — Screenplay by Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner

Baaahahahahhahahaah! You didn't actually think I'd give "Precious" an award, did you? "Up In the Air." The rest of them were written by my six year old that I just found out about.

Writing (Original Screenplay)

“The Hurt Locker” — Written by Mark Boal
“Inglourious Basterds” — Written by Quentin Tarantino
“The Messenger” — Written by Alessandro Camon & Oren Moverman
“A Serious Man” — Written by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen
“Up” — Screenplay by Bob Peterson, Pete Docter, Story by Pete Docter, Bob Peterson, Tom McCarthy

I am in no way, shape or form ashamed to tell you that I think "Up," more than any other of their movies to date, is Pixar's masterpiece. They literally could've ended the movie just after the exposition and I would've been just as endeared to it. For an animated film to create characters that demand such sincere emotional attachment is an achievement that I do not take lightly. There are no jokes, here folks. I think "Up" is one of the top five screenplays of the decade. There was not a dry eye in the house at the end of that movie. I need to watch it again. Now.

Animated Feature Film
“Fantastic Mr. Fox”
“The Princess and the Frog”
“The Secret of Kells”

Coraline was the dumbest movie ever. I wish this Tim Burton-style of not-quite-stop-motion animation would just disappear. The "Fantastic Mr. Fox" was so fantastic that nobody ever heard of it, even the cast and crew. While it was refreshing to see that Disney still has real animators on retainer, that story was a little too "Hey kids, isn't it great to be culturally diverse!" for me to be able to appreciate the story. I'm all about diversity. Hell, I went to Diversity University where I majored in Diversification of Non-Diverse Cultural Subgroups and the Correlating Diversities (or DNDCSCD as we lovingly call it). "The Secret of Kells" is still a secret to me. And surprise surprise, "Up" wins. If you haven't seen it, pause your reading of this and go see it.

Art Direction:

"Avatar"Art Direction: Rick Carter and Robert Stromberg; Set Decoration: Kim Sinclair
“The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus” — Art Direction: Dave Warren and Anastasia Masaro; Set Decoration: Caroline Smith
“Nine” — Art Direction: John Myhre; Set Decoration: Gordon Sim
“Sherlock Holmes” — Art Direction: Sarah Greenwood; Set Decoration: Katie Spencer
“The Young Victoria” — Art Direction: Patrice Vermette; Set Decoration: Maggie Gray

This was a tough one. Oh wait, no it wasn't. Because Avatar made two billion dollars. What did YOU do in 2009?

“Avatar” — Mauro Fiore
“Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” — Bruno Delbonnel
“The Hurt Locker” — Barry Ackroyd
“Inglourious Basterds” — Robert Richardson
“The White Ribbon” — Christian Berger

*Yawn* Duh. Plus, Quentin, it wasn't your finest. In fact, Quentin, most of your finest isn't even your finest. You and your pointy chin...

Costume Design
“Bright Star” — Janet Patterson
“Coco before Chanel” — Catherine Leterrier
“The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus” — Monique Prudhomme
“Nine” — Colleen Atwood
“The Young Victoria” — Sandy Powell

Because some schmuck in the Academy will get everyone in an uproar by saying "But hey, what about Heath Ledger? He's dead! Isn't that sad?!" And then everyone will wave their ceremonial toilet paper about and powder their wigs. I think I may have the Academy of Motion Picture Sciences confused with British Parliament now that I think about it.

Documentary (Feature)
“Burma VJ”
“The Cove”
“Food, Inc.”
“The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers”
“Which Way Home”

Food, Inc. Because after "An Inconvenient Truth," documentaries don't matter anymore.

Documentary (Short Subject)
“China’s Unnatural Disaster: The Tears of Sichuan Province”
“The Last Campaign of Governor Booth Gardner”
“The Last Truck: Closing of a GM Plant”
“Music by Prudence”
“Rabbit à la Berlin”

I'm going with the rabbit one here. Primarily because rabbits have lots of sex and who doesn't love sex? The China one sounds awfully Chinese. We get it, you're half the planet. STOP having sex. I hope the rabbit movie wasn't released in China. The Last Campaign one sounds about as exciting as clipping a dead person's fingernails, "The Last Truck" would represent the toenails of said dead person and "Music by Prudence" sounds like the smash-hit follow-up to my favorite movie of 2009, "Precious!" Yay for sex.

Film Editing
“Avatar” — Stephen Rivkin, John Refoua and James Cameron
“District 9” — Julian Clarke
“The Hurt Locker” — Bob Murawski and Chris Innis
“Inglourious Basterds” — Sally Menke
“Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire” — Joe Klotz

I'm going with "The Hurt Locker" on this one because honestly it was pretty compellingly put together. The cinematography didn't do much for me, but I could see how integral a role the editing played. And "Avatar?" Clearly nobody was editing that three hour beast. Though one could argue that someone was definitely editing it because I get the feeling if James Cameron had his way we'd eventually see his Avatar show up on Pandora and just start playing badminton and eating clementines.

Foreign Language Film
“Ajami” — Israel
“El Secreto de Sus Ojos” — Argentina
“The Milk of Sorrow” — Peru
“Un Prophète” — France
“The White Ribbon” — Germany

Blah blah blah. If I want to hear your language I'll go to the DMV. If I want to read I'll get a book. There is just nothing here that could interest me. Interestingly, I have enjoyed most foreign films I've seen but you usually have to threaten me at gunpoint to get me to actually watch it. And even then I'll probably be imagining needlepoint patterns.

Nobody wins.

“Il Divo” — Aldo Signoretti and Vittorio Sodano
“Star Trek” — Barney Burman, Mindy Hall and Joel Harlow
“The Young Victoria” — Jon Henry Gordon and Jenny Shircore

Really? Nobody wins here. Think back on last year's movies. Think back long and hard. Think back about two billion dollars worth. Actually, you know what? The Academy will win the Academy Award for this category for "Making Up" the nominees.

Music (Original Score)
“Avatar” — James Horner
“Fantastic Mr. Fox” — Alexandre Desplat
“The Hurt Locker” — Marco Beltrami and Buck Sanders
“Sherlock Holmes” — Hans Zimmer
“Up” — Michael Giacchino

I love Hans Zimmer. I'm hard-pressed to find a score he's written that I don't enjoy. And I have to give it to him, the score for Sherlock Holmes was downright intriguing, Robert Downey Jr.'s musical doppelganger, if you will. But the score for "Up" was absolutely breathtaking. I subscribe to the philosophy that a film's music score should enhance what you're watching, never supplement it. You should only be aware on the tiniest level that the heightened emotional response you're feeling is from the score. Giacchino finds his theme and works masterfully around it throughout the movie. Music like breathing - existence is null without it.

Music (Original Song)
“Almost There” from “The Princess and the Frog” Music and Lyric by Randy Newman
“Down in New Orleans” from “The Princess and the Frog” Music and Lyric by Randy Newman
“Loin de Paname” from “Paris 36” Music by Reinhardt Wagner Lyric by Frank Thomas
“Take It All” from “Nine” Music and Lyric by Maury Yeston
“The Weary Kind (Theme from Crazy Heart)” from “Crazy Heart” Music and Lyric by Ryan Bingham and T Bone Burnett

I will never pass up the opportunity to praise Randy Newman. Click the link.

Short Film (Animated)
“French Roast” Fabrice O. Joubert
“Granny O’Grimm’s Sleeping Beauty” Nicky Phelan and Darragh O’Connell
“The Lady and the Reaper (La Dama y la Muerte)” Javier Recio Gracia
“Logorama” Nicolas Schmerkin
“A Matter of Loaf and Death” Nick Park

Even Billy Crystal couldn't make me care about this category. I'm going to go with "A Matter of Loaf and Death" because I like puns.

Short Film (Live Action)
“The Door” — Juanita Wilson and James Flynn
“Instead of Abracadabra” — Patrik Eklund and Mathias Fjellström
“Kavi” — Gregg Helvey
“Miracle Fish” — Luke Doolan and Drew Bailey
“The New Tenants” — Joachim Back and Tivi Magnusson

Again I'm going with none. I can't believe that "Ataque de Pánico!" wasn't nominated.

Sound Editing
“Avatar” — Christopher Boyes and Gwendolyn Yates Whittle
“The Hurt Locker” — Paul N. J. Ottosson
“Inglourious Basterds” — Wylie Stateman
“Star Trek” — Mark Stoeckinger and Alan Rankin
“Up” — Michael Silvers and Tom Myers

I'ma give some love to "Star Trek." J.J. Abrams knows what he's doing when he creates expansive worlds (not quite on James Cameron's level, though) and Alan Rankin was a solid choice for giving Star Trek the very crisp audio that you don't even need Blu-Ray to be able to enjoy.

Sound Mixing
“Avatar” — Christopher Boyes, Gary Summers, Andy Nelson and Tony Johnson
“The Hurt Locker” — Paul N. J. Ottosson and Ray Beckett
“Inglourious Basterds” — Michael Minkler, Tony Lamberti and Mark Ulano
“Star Trek” — Anna Behlmer, Andy Nelson and Peter J. Devlin
“Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” — Greg P. Russell, Gary Summers and Geoffrey Patterson

I'm actually glad "Transformers: Revenge of the What the Fuck I Took Too Much Acid" got nominated because it gave me a chance to make that joke. What a terrible, terrible movie. I wouldn't call it "sound mixing," because that implies there are still discernible parts. Everything about the editing, visually and audibly, of this movie is indicative of "blending." Because I have no stock in this category and I'm tired of saying the "A" word, I'm going with "The Hurt Locker." That shit hurt.

Visual Effects
“Avatar” — Joe Letteri, Stephen Rosenbaum, Richard Baneham and Andrew R. Jones
“District 9” — Dan Kaufman, Peter Muyzers, Robert Habros and Matt Aitken
“Star Trek” — Roger Guyett, Russell Earl, Paul Kavanagh and Burt Dalton

Two. Billion.

Okay kiddies. Those are the predictions. Please feel free to add your comments and your own predictions, just be nice because daddy is out of anti-depressants and using Wild Turkey to cope. And images of Katy Perry's cleavage. Those are reallllly helping. With what, I'm not sure, but I just sent them to Haiti.

Check back often to see if someone posted a reply to your reply - I'm considering liveblogging the Oscars so I'd appreciate your feedback there annnnnd until next time, don't think too hard, because your face will get stuck like that.